Rafa Benitez can get under-performing Chelsea-loanee Kenedy back to his best by making a drastic switch to 4-3-3 against Blackburn in the FA Cup.
Since Kenedy fired Newcastle to wins over Watford and Bournemouth, with a Man of the Match performance at St James’ Park against the Hornets and an assist against the Cherries, the 22-year-old has struggled for form and seen his minutes dwindle over the festive period.
The Brazilian started the season strongly, with one of the best performances of any Magpies player against Tottenham, and later shone at Old Trafford when Benitez’s side stormed to an early two-goal lead.
Unfortunately for Newcastle, the assist against Eddie Howe’s travelling side marked a drastic downturn in the Chelsea-loanee’s performances, before he was ultimately dropped to a one-minute cameo in his side’s defeat to Wolverhampton Wanderers on December 9.
An instant return to the starting XI against Huddersfield failed to get the most out of the Santa Rita do Sapucai-born star, but in his struggling games he has been fielded on the left or right of a four or five-man midfield.
To get the most out of Kenedy, a move to a more attacking formation is needed by Benitez in this weekend’s FA Cup tie with Blackburn, as it will allow the Brazilian to push on and focus on challenging the Championship outfit’s backline.
From the deeper left or right-midfield position he has recently been forced to play in, the on-loan star would struggle to break down the 4-2-3-1 Tony Mowbray sets the Riversiders out to play in – instead getting trapped between the right-back and holding midfielder.
If Kenedy was to be fielded as a left-winger, he could instead sit on the shoulder of Ryan Nyambe or Elliott Bennett – depending on who earns the call-up – and look to cause problems on the break.
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Over the opening 21 games of the Premier League season, Benitez has fielded his side in four different formations, but never has the Spaniard used a 4-3-3 from the starting whistle.
Instead, the 58-year-old has turned to a 4-4-1-1 on 11 occasions, while turning to a 5-4-1 seven times, 3-5-1-1 twice, and a 5-3-2 on a single occasion. If the former Chelsea, Liverpool and Real Madrid gaffer were to play a 4-3-3, it would be uncharted territory for the Toon.
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